Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I - OBL dead - Oh, Big Deal!

Smoking hot headlines and big news this week! Osama bin Laden has been found and killed by Navy Seals at his compound in Pakistan. It really is a big deal in one sense, in that the capture or killing of OBL has been a priority in the U.S. for the last decade, but on a more realistic note, look down the CNN headline picture on the left. Down... farther... just a bit farther... Yes! There it is! Just below the sub-head that reads "Latest News". See that item there? The one that says "Gas could soon top $4 nationwide"? How about them apples, huh?

Sure the killing of OBL probably deserves some big headlines - at least for a day or two - but the real issues are down below the fold. (OK, old newspaper terminology, I know, but it fits.) Down there are the issues with the economy, the flooding in Missouri (and the rest of the Midwest), the twisters across the South and Southeast, and a whole slew of other real problems that haven't changed a bit while we froth at the mouth over the killing of one terrorist leader. You can't even *find* a current article on the nuclear reactor mess in Japan.

Al Qaeda has not really been hurt by this action, and it probably has done more harm than good to the international opinion of the U.S., but the press wants to make it into a huge thing. I have to suspect that at least part of the motivation is to make our president look more presidential, but I think I hear the Nobel committee asking for their prize back. Terrorism will continue (and probably get worse for a while), and the economy will stay in the tank. Lybia will still be a huge challenge and Afghanistan is going to keep soaking up dollars and lives, but the press will feel good about the war on terror. Frankly, I think that Dubya hit the nail on the head back in '02 or whenever it was when he said that he neither knew nor cared where Bin Laden was. It didn't mean that he wasn't interested in getting him if the opportunity presented itself, but it meant that he understood that the real problems of global terrorism went back to nations like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who support terrorism or provide the economic conditions that drive people toward the radical elements.

When we defeat terrorism, in all its guises not just Al Qaeda, it will owe more to Wal-Mart than the Navy SEALs. We will defeat terrorism when all of the people in these countries have a standard of living that allows them hope for the future and the ability to pursue happiness in their lives right now. Only with the replacement of totalitarian regimes with governments sensitive to the needs of all the people and with diversified economic growth not tied to the elite few will the radical element begin to recede. But that's a process for the decades and doesn't make the kind of headlines that sell papers, I guess.

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